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Tributes to James Borin

July 8, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

James L. Borin
James L. Borin

On July 3, 2013, I lost a very good friend and colleague, Jim Borin. Jim and I started our practice at the same time about 40 years ago. In the first 10 years, we disliked each other for some unknown reason. He was on the defense side and I was on the plaintiff side.

We passed each other without a “hello” and worked hard to make each others lives as miserable as we could. I thought he was arrogant, self centered, cocky and really not as knowledgeable of the “new law” as he thought — the new law being the “No Fault Act” of October 1973.

Ten years after we began, we had a very large case together and lo and behold, I discovered for myself that, yes he was smart and he really wasn’t a bad guy at all. We began our friendship then and I’m lucky enough to have considered him one of my dearest friends.

When I asked Jim why he didn’t like me for those 10 years, his answer was, “You were arrogant, self centered, cocky and not as knowledgeable of the No Fault Law as you thought you were.” Gee those words sounded familiar!

Jim Borin was one of the finest lawyers of our time. There are two lawyers during my 40 years of practice that I believed made the biggest difference in personal injury law: Albert Lopatin and his firm, and James Borin. Those of us lucky enough to practice law in our chosen field of personal injury owe it all to those two pioneers.

Albert has been missed and now Jim will be dearly missed.

Rest in peace, my friend. We will all try to carry on your legacy.

 – Lenny Koltonow, Partner, Michigan Auto Law

I first met Jim Borin about 20 years ago when I was a new, first-year practicing lawyer. My dad/employer had signed me up for Jim’s famous “Fundamentals of No Fault Insurance” class at Lawrence Tech University. I went and found out I was the only plaintiff attorney in a very large class full of insurance adjusters and defense lawyers.

That, and Jim being friends with my dad and with Lenny Koltonow, assured that I was always on the perpetual “hot seat” in the class. I was invited by Professor Borin, always with a small smile and a twinkle in his eyes, to give the entire class the plaintiff lawyer perspective on whatever issue we were discussing.

As a new lawyer, it felt worse than anytime I could remember in law school. In the years since, Jim took an active interest in my career and I’m glad to say we became friends.

For many years, Jim invited me to speak at several legal seminars to his Cooley Law School class on Michigan’s No Fault Law.  I remember driving with him for several hours back and forth to his Frankenmuth No Fault Update seminar.  I remember the many lunches we had together at ICLE No Fault seminars, talking about the future.

When I first heard he passed, I sent an e-mail to all the attorneys in our office remembering him. I said that Jim was one of a vanishing breed of gentlemen defense lawyers.  His word was his bond. He could be trusted. And he had a real respect for the law and how it was being interpreted.

Jim was concerned with the politicization of our courts and he truly cared about the No Fault law in this state. When a decision was wrong, he would call it wrong, even when it was good for the defense side. He respected the law, and his genuine passion and care for our No Fault law was shared with thousands of claims adjusters and lawyers over the course of his career.

He will be missed.

 – Steven Gursten, partner, Michigan Auto Law


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